A lady known simply as “Auntie Muna”, who volunteers with Refugees Welcome Hounslow, won the Building Reslience Award at the Diocese of Westminster Social Action Awards last Wednesday 2nd June.
The Building Resilience award recognises volunteers who have gone beyond meeting immediate needs, to helping people fulfil their potential. “Auntie Muna” is the liaison officer for Refugees Welcome Hounslow, at the hostel where she lives.
The volunteers at Refugees Welcome Hounslow have seen her working with the other asylum seekers in her hostel, to create what they call a “vibrant self-help community”. She runs meetings on a Friday night to build community spirit; she has helped the women create a little garden and encouraged families to share their scant resources and help each other.
Auntie Muna has supported Refugees Welcome Hounslow by distributing funds collected by the local church. Always wanting to do more, she has attended training courses and become computer literate, so that she can support her small community even better.
A few weeks ago Auntie Muna helped organise a Teddy Bears’ Picnic at Kew Gardens for the families in her hostel. She also translates for asylum seekers from West Africa who have been housed in hotels and need to contact a lawyer, and has bravely spoken to psychologists and academics of her own experiences of the dangers she faced in her country of origin.
When asked how she reacted when she found out she had won, Auntie Muna said: “I called the women together and I said, ‘This is not about me, it is about all of us. Without your help, I could do nothing.’”